Have you ever noticed that when you’re single, you want to be in a relationship, and when you’re in a relationship, you want the freedom you had when you were single? There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s healthy.
Why? Relationships are about sharing our individualities, differences and teaching each other about acceptance. They aren’t supposed to be like what we see in the movies or on television or in some books.
Most of what we see and read focuses on the unhealthy; we see setback after setback, men who treat women poorly, women who treat men poorly and none of the boring parts in-between.
Relationships aren’t supposed to stifle us or keep us small; they’re supposed to help us grow. And, the only way we can do that is if we have room to do so.
When one of my relationships ended, I remember feeling that it happened because we didn't grow alone first. We spent so much time exploring the world together, reading the same stories and thinking the same thoughts that most of my life was his, as well.
Without him, I felt unsteady, confused and doubtful about my identity. Although we were growing as a couple, I was stuck running in the same place of self-development as when we’d met. So, when we split, I fell through the wheel, landed and had to pick myself up.
Just as I was about to stand, I met another guy with whom I fell into a similar cycle. I jumped into our world, isolating myself from my own. And, like my previous relationship, this one ended, leaving me on the ground, struggling to get up.
The trick with relationships is that to be able to grow on your own while you're in one and to maintain a sense of freedom or self, you must already know how to stand.
But, standing on your own isn’t enough. You must find someone who stands on his or her own, so the two of you can stand beside one another. This way, both of you will be ready to share yourselves without compromising your identities in the process.
Here's how to tell if you’re standing on your own two feet:
You Like Yourself
Of course, we all have moments when we doubt our thoughts and emotions, but overall, you know you’re a pretty good person. You can look in the mirror and more often than not, say to yourself, "Yeah, you go girl."
You accept yourself, even when you feel jealous of others, angry or insecure. Just as much as you care for yourself in times of sadness, you also support yourself in times of success. You pat yourself on the back for promotions, new jobs and even getting to work on time. You see yourself as a friend, not an enemy.
There are many ways you can start liking yourself more each day. They aren’t necessarily huge changes, but small shifts in perspective. To start, try thanking yourself. Thank you for taking a walk. Thank you for sleeping in. Thank you for saying no when you didn't want to do something. Thanking yourself even once a day can help!
You don’t take yourself too seriously
One of the reasons why communication breaks down is because one partner (or both) can’t find the humor in his or her own flaws, or even admit to having any.
We are all human, which means we all make mistakes. Remember, there’s no such thing as perfect. So, instead of getting defensive when you're called out for something, laugh it off. Instead of beating yourself up under your breath if you lose your keys, laugh it off.
If you want to be silly and loud and jump around to your favorite song, do it. You know that life’s too short to be constantly serious. Try finding ways to laugh more during the day.
When you see yourself about to respond in a snippety way, try to see if you can respond in a more fun-loving, open way.
You like what you do
When you wake up in the morning, you know you have a full day to use well.
While this might apply to your career, it doesn't have to. Maybe you get to the gym, have a smoothie, eat a piece of pie, swing on a swing set, stop for a coffee and sit outside, get a facial or read a good book. The point is you know that if you get to do something that makes you feel good during the day, it’s what you need to do.
You trust yourself
Before making any kind of decision, you don't need to run it by my friends, family or even bartenders.
If you don't listen to yourself, you could end up in trouble and most likely, very unhappy. Most of the time, it comes down to not getting what you need because you end up getting what everyone else thinks you need.
Know that trusting what you think and feel means you value what you think and feel. The less you trust yourself, the less you will value what you have to say or the emotions that lead you to act in certain ways.
To stand on your own, you must trust your thoughts and feelings. If you don’t, you'll rarely see the choice you have in situations. The best way to begin is to quietly sit for about five minutes a day.
Listen to what you earnestly feel, then take one thought and act on it. Take one action that will move you closer to what you desire.
For any relationship to work, not only romantic ones, it’s important there’s not one person constantly grabbing the other's hand. To feel free in a relationship, both people have to let the other person be whom he or she is.
Photo Courtesy: HBO/Game of Thrones